• Below are some of the honors, awards and accomplishments our students, staff, schools and district earned during the 2020-21 school year.

    Faculty and Staff

    • Maggie Buoy from Hinsdale Central was named the 2020 School Social Worker of the Year by the Illinois Association of School Social Workers (IASSW).

    • Social studies teacher David Ritter from Hinsdale South was named a "most influential teacher" by Illinois State University. He was recognized by the university for the high levels of energy and academic rigor he brings to his classroom, and for inspiring his students to pursue careers in education.

    • District 86 teachers Sally Belter, Christina Brodell and Courtney Mikulcik presented at the Illinois Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages Fall Conference.

    • Rick Cazzato and Jennifer Gilbert from Hinsdale South were guest presenters at the Illinois Council of Teachers of Mathematics Annual Conference on Oct. 17.

    • Kim Estoque, who is Hinsdale Central’s girls gymnastics coach, began her 30th year of coaching in November. Estoque was voted the West Suburban Conference Coach of the Year during the 2019-20 school year.

    • Kirk Hickman, who is the band director at Hinsdale South, was one of seven individuals to receive the Chicagoland Outstanding Music Educator Award by the Quinlan & Fabish Music Company.

    • Business teacher Vince Doran from Hinsdale South was inducted into the players wing of the Illinois Basketball Coaches Association Hall of Fame.

    • Courtney Gillette from Hinsdale South was named the Illinois Drill Team Association Coach of the Year.

    • Kim Estoque and Myles Laffey from Hinsdale Central were named conference coaches of the year in girls gymnastics.
    • The American Psychological Association (APA) published an interactive lesson created by Hinsdale South social studies teacher Emily Polacek in APA Style, which is a highly respected and peer-reviewed online journal that helps writers "present their ideas in a clear, precise, and inclusive manner." Through her lesson, Ms. Polacek seeks to facilitate the understanding and mastery of APA's citation style. By doing so, she is able to help students hone their research and writing skills, and gives them the tools they need to avoid the trappings of plagiarism.

    • John Naisbitt from Hinsdale Central was named a finalist for national coach of the year in boys tennis by the National High School Athletic Coaches Association.

    • Julie Baker and Pat Richards from Hinsdale Central were named Outstanding Activity Sponsors by the Illinois Directors of Student Activities. Baker, who was the faculty sponsor for Women in Engineering, and Richards, who was the faculty sponsor for SADD (Students Against Destructive Decisions) and the DAWGS Military Support Group, received this award in recognition of the impact they have made on their club or activity, and because they exemplify what it means to be the "ideal advisor."
    • Superintendent Tammy Prentiss earned an Award of Merit in the Administrator category as part of the 2021 Distinguished Service Awards Program sponsored by the Illinois Chapter of the National School Public Relations Association (INSPRA). These awards recognize those who make a difference in their school communities by helping to promote public education and enhance its programs and services. 

    • Nancy Betker from Hinsdale South received the Standing Ovation Award from the Illinois Association for Behavioral Health in recognition of her work with the district’s Operation Snowball program. Operation Snowball is "an alcohol and other drug use prevention program based in Springfield, Illinois that focuses on leadership development to empower youth to lead drug-free lives."


    Individual Students

    • Six seniors from District 86 (Qing Dang, Amer Goel, Bilal Khan, Sidh Leekha, Dhruv Vaze and Aileen Yang) were named candidates for the 2021 U.S. Presidential Scholars Program. Each year, up to 161 students are named Presidential Scholars, which is considered one of the nation's highest honors for high school students.

    • Hinsdale Central junior Sacheen Upadhye won the Hornaday Badge Award from the Boy Scouts for "completing a conservation-related project and verifying its lasting impact over time." This award is given to fewer than 100 Eagle Scouts from across the country on an annual basis.

    • Seniors Dylan Davis from Hinsdale South and Moses Yawe from Hinsdale Central were selected for the College Board's National African American Recognition Program.

    • Hinsdale Central junior Alexandra Collins was one of six youth leaders from across North America who earned a Brower Youth Award from the New Leaders Initiative program.

    • Five students from Hinsdale Central (Alonso Guerrero, Jacob Marquez, Melanie Quinones, John Rivera and Maria Rivera) were selected for the College Board's National Hispanic Recognition Program.

    • Hinsdale South senior Julian Watson won his second straight sectional championship and third straight regional championship in cross country.

    • Junior Billy Gneiser from Hinsdale South took first place in the regional tournament and second place in the sectional tournament for boys golf.

    • Junior Shivani Rao from Hinsdale Central was invited to present at the American Society of Hematology's Annual Meeting and Exposition, which was held virtually in early December. The focus of her presentation was the study about blood types and COVID-19 severity that she conducted with Dr. Shivi Jain from Rush University Medical Center.

    • Junior Suzan Nofal from Hinsdale Central was among the 22 students from across the country who were selected as members of the inaugural Equity in Civics Youth Fellowship.

    • Hinsdale Central senior Katrina Geiersbach was among the 26 individuals from across Illinois who were named to the Illinois High School Association's (IHSA) 2021 All-State Academic Team. The IHSA awards this honor to students who "have excelled in academics, while also participating in multiple sports and activities."

    • The following students from District 86 took first place in their individual events during a competition that was held in conjunction with the Illinois Business Professionals of America (BPA) State Leadership Conference:

      • Angelina Buonavolanto, Simran Karamchandani and Emma Schackart from Hinsdale Central - Broadcast News Production Team
      • Ajay Gupta from Hinsdale Central - Extemporaneous Speech
      • Bilal Mohammed from Hinsdale Central - Advanced Interview Skills
      • Nicholas Momchev from Hinsdale South - Fundamentals of Web Design
      • Aayush Patel from Hinsdale South - Network Administration Using Cisco ®
      • Brigid Rudolph from Hinsdale South - Interview Skills
    • Several students from District 86 finished in the top 10 in their individual events during the virtual competition held in conjunction with the Business Professionals of America (BPA) National Leadership Conference.

      • Nathan Zock from Hinsdale Central took first place in the Graphic Design Promotion event.
      • Aira Chaudhary, Athena Deng, Nicole Hu and Sarah Thornton from Hinsdale Central took second place in the Global Marketing Team event.
      • Saanvi Sethi from Hinsdale Central took second place in the Prepared Speech event.
      • Ajay Gupta from Hinsdale Central took second place in the Extemporaneous Speaking event.
      • Bilal Mohammed from Hinsdale Central took third place in the Advanced Interview Skills event.
      • Aayush Patel from Hinsdale South took fourth place in the Network Administration Using Cisco event.
      • Arnima Agrawal from Hinsdale Central took fifth place in the Graphic Design Promotion event.
      • Rama Bhagwat from Hinsdale Central took fifth place in the Business Law & Ethics event.
      • Annie Ascher from Hinsdale Central took eighth place in the Prepared Speech event.
      • Nicholas Momche from Hinsdale South took ninth place in the Java Programming event.
      • Annette Ciupek from Hinsdale Central took 10th place in the Advanced Interview Skills event.

    • Hinsdale South junior Safia Khan was invited to attend the online version of the Summer Academy that is organized and run by The School of The New York Times. She was also selected as a recipient of the Diverse Voices Scholarship, which will help fund her participation in the program.

    • Hinsdale South junior Fouzaan Amjad and Hinsdale Central senior Anna Pellegrino received the recognition of Outstanding Attorney during the 2021 ISBA High School Mock Trial Invitational.

    • Hinsdale Central junior Amy Dong and Hinsdale South freshman Sarrah Handlawala both earned a Silver Key at the national level for the Scholastic Art & Writing Awards. The two students were automatically considered for the honor after earning Golden Keys in the regional competition.

    • Hinsdale Central divers Conor Furlong and Sami Kassir finished in first and second place respectively at the West Suburban Conference championship.

    • Hinsdale South junior Zaynab Rehman earned third place in the BRAIN Initiative Challenge for her essay titled "Brain Organoids isn’t a 'No-Brainer,'" which addresses the ethical questions associated with using stem cells to engineer brain-like structures to study disease. The event, which was hosted by the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, is a "federal challenge opportunity (prize competition) for high school students who are curious about science, the brain, and the ethical implications of novel technologies being developed and applied to understand the brain and treat brain disorders."

    • Papers written by Amy Dong, Joseph Luo, Rohan Shah and Grant Zhang from Hinsdale Central's Data Science Club were among the 35 that received an honorable mention award in conjunction with the MathWorks Math Modeling Challenge. Only 9% of the papers submitted for the competition received an award.

    • Sophomore Maggie Chen from Hinsdale South took third place in singles at the state tournament for badminton. 

    • Junior Armaan Panjwani and seniors Josh Keating and Chiara Gregor from Hinsdale Central excelled in their individual events at the state competition for the Illinois Design Educators Association. Keating took third place in the 3D CAD Modeling event, while Panjwani and Gregor tied for third in the Architectural 2D CAD event.

    • Senior Joyce Ebikhumi from Hinsdale South won best in state in the World of 7 Billion student video contest for her entry titled "Cleaning up Brownfields."
    • Several students from Hinsdale Central won awards during the Family, Career and Community Leaders of America's (FCCLA) virtual state competition:

      • Colleen Yopp won a Gold in the Fashion Construction STAR event.
      • Fatima Khan won a Gold in the Public Speaking Creed event.
      • Zuzanna Sokolowski won a Gold in the Apparel Construction event.
      • Sufia Iqbal won a Silver in the Salad Preparation event.

    • Senior Henry Mihindou from Hinsdale South qualified for the state tournament in boys gymnastics after taking second place on the still rings and third place on vault at sectionals. 

    • Derek Pancratz from Hinsdale Central was selected to participate in Carnegie Mellon University's Summer Academy for Math and Science (SAMS). This highly competitive program (only 75 students were chosen from the more than 500 who applied) utilizes traditional classroom instruction and hands-on projects that are administered by the university's faculty and staff to help students develop a deeper understanding of subject areas such as mathematics, biology and physics.


    Schools and District

    • Fifteen students from Hinsdale Central earned the AP Capstone Diploma award. This award is granted to students who earn scores of 3 or higher in AP Seminar and AP Research, and on four additional AP exams of their choosing.

    • Seventeen students from Hinsdale South earned the distinction of “National AP Scholar." This honor is granted to students in the United States who receive an average score of at least 4 on their AP exams, and scores of 4 or higher on eight or more of these exams.

    • Twenty-seven students from District 86 were recognized as semifinalists in the National Merit Scholarship Program.

    • Fifty-one students from District 86 were recognized as Commended Students in the National Merit Scholarship Program.

    • The girls golf team from Hinsdale Central won its sectional and regional tournaments, while the boys golf team took first place in regionals and second in sectionals.

    • The girls tennis team from Hinsdale Central took first place at the sectional tournament and won the West Suburban Gold conference championship. The girls tennis team from Hinsdale South won the West Suburban Silver conference championship.

    • The girls swimming and diving team from Hinsdale Central won its second straight sectional title.

    • Hinsdale South's Illusions Art Magazine was awarded a First Place with Special Merit by the American Scholastic Press Association (ASPA). It was also named the Most Outstanding High School Art Magazine for 2020.

    • Solstice, which is the art and literary magazine produced by students and staff from Hinsdale Central, was one of eight high school print literary magazines in the country to be awarded a Gold Crown from the Columbia Scholastic Press Association (CSPA). This is the highest recognition CSPA gives to a student print or digital medium for overall excellence.

    • Students from District 86 earned 62 gold medals, 69 silver medals, 89 bronze medals and 114 honorable mentions for the scores they received on the Spanish, French, German and Latin national exams they took last year.

    • One hundred seniors from across the district earned the Seal of Biliteracy for the fall of 2020 by scoring a 4 or 5 on the Advanced Placement exam in the spring, or performing well on a language proficiency test during first semester.

    • District 86 students earned 10 Gold Keys, 16 Silver Keys and eight Honorable Mentions in conjunction with the Alliance for Young Artists & Writers’ Scholastic Art & Writing Awards.

    • Sixty-five students from District 86 earned All District selections for band, chorus, jazz band and orchestra from the Illinois Music Education Association.

    • The speech teams from Hinsdale Central and Hinsdale South took second and third place respectively in the state tournament. Both teams also had top three finishes in several individual events, including two tournament championships by South students Darrell Mondaine (Original Comedy) and Sofia Guerrero (Original Oratory).

    • The Hinsdale Central Scholastic Bowl team won its regular season and postseason conference titles, and took first place in its regional and sectional tournaments. 

    • Hinsdale South's varsity danceline team won the conference championship, took second place at sectionals and took seventh place at state. The team's finish at the state tournament was its best in school history. In addition, the varsity and junior varsity teams both won the championship in their Pom Dance category at the Illinois Drill Team Association state finals. This is the second straight year the two teams have taken home the title in this category.

    • Hinsdale South's cheer team took third place at the junior varsity level and fifth place at the varsity level at the WSC Cheer Invite, both of which represented the team’s best finish at the event in school history. The varsity squad was also the fifth cheer team from South to make the state tournament, and earned its second highest place at the event in school history (20th in the Medium Division).

    • The varsity and junior varsity Science Olympiad teams from Hinsdale Central both took second place at the Virtual College of DuPage Regional Science Olympiad competition.

    • The varsity boys basketball team from Hinsdale South won the Gold Division in the West Suburban Conference.

    • The Forensics team from Hinsdale Central accumulated more than 15,000 points for its speech and debate presentations, competition and service. As a result, the school earned a 1st Diamond degree of membership (coaching award) in the National Speech & Debate Association’s Honor Society.

    • Hinsdale South's drama department earned a pair of top five finishes during the IHSA Sectional Drama and Group Interpretation Tournament. South took first place in the Drama category for its production of "Over the River and Through the Woods," and fourth place in the Group Interpretation category for its production of "The Staggering Heartbreak of Jasmine Merriwether." The school also had eight students earn All-Sectional Actor awards for their performances.

    • The Hinsdale South Math Team took second place overall at regionals, and had three second place finishes and two third place finishes in individual events at the tournament. The team also finished in 18th place at state. 
    • The Hinsdale Central Math Team took first place overall and in all seven of its individual events at regionals. The team also finished in 11th place at state.

    • The varsity girls badminton teams from Hinsdale South and Hinsdale Central won their respective conference titles, with South claiming championships at all 15 positions for the first time school history. Both teams also took first place in their sectional tournaments, and had several student-athletes earn individual accolades. 

    • The girls gymnastics team from Hinsdale Central took second place in the West Suburban Conference championships, and had several student-athletes finish in the top five in their individual events. 

    • Student journalists from VESPA, which is Hinsdale South's yearbook, took second place overall at sectionals. They also had top three finishes in several individual events at the tournament, including championships in Review Writing, Sports Writing, Yearbook Copy Writing and Yearbook Theme Development.
    • Students from District 86 earned 35 gold medals, 55 silver medals, 52 bronze medals and 50 honorable mentions for the scores they received on the Spanish, French, German and Latin national world language exams they took last year. Several students received additional accolades for their individual performances:

      • Yanning (Maria) Jiao from Hinsdale Central received a platinum award for earning the highest score in the nation on the Level 1 French exam.
      • Dimitrije Gujanicic, Parth Joshi, Mitchell Hanson, Diya Syed and Leah Tharian from Hinsdale South were among the top scorers on the Spanish II, III and IV exams in the Chicago area, which resulted in them placing in the local chapter of the American Association of Teachers of Spanish and Portuguese (AATSP).
      • Nadir Muzaffar and Joy Chen from Hinsdale Central earned perfect scores on the Latin exam. The perfect score that Muzaffar received was his third one overall (i.e., accomplished the same thing on the Latin I and II exams).
      • Andrew Metzger from Hinsdale South earned honors on two different language tests (Spanish and Latin) for the second year in a row.
      • The gold medal that Stella Dang from Hinsdale Central earned for her score on this year's Latin exam was her fourth overall. This honor qualified her for a special scholarship and resulted in her receiving a Book Award from the National Latin Exam.